Case Study: Suede's Fight for Life. How Good Nutrition Gave This Dog More Time!

Case Study: Suede's Fight for Life. How Good Nutrition Gave This Dog More Time!

My dog, Suede, stopped eating, but her family refused to let her go without a fight! They learned so much about how nutrition can help an animal and with the advice of Dr. Jill they were able to help her.

Growing up, I have had pets; lots of different animals, but always at least one dog. I’ve loved and cherished every pet growing up, but I have a very special connection with my dad’s dog Suede. In 2006, my dad really wanted a lab puppy that he could train to take hunting with him, but my stepmom had no idea how to find a breeder. Of course, I was excited about the possibility of getting a new puppy, so I jumped on the computer and started searching. Within a week, we found a breeder, went and saw the litter of puppies and my dad picked out Suede (we had a thing for naming dogs after fabrics). 

Suede grew up to be the most amazing dog. She was an excellent hunting dog for my dad and an amazing companion for every member of our family. About a year ago, Suede started developing a large lump on her hind leg, but this one was different from her fatty bumps and lumps, it grew fast and it was firmer, but it didn't seem to bug her and my dad didn't want to put her through a bunch of tests to see if it was possibly cancer. Within 6 months her health declined dramatically, she was losing muscle mass on her hind legs and as a result, was having trouble getting up and downstairs, even standing was challenging.

Around the end of summer, Suede stopped eating, and my whole family thought she was going to pass before Christmas. But I refused to let her go without a fight! I had learned so much about how nutrition can help an animal and with the advice of Dr. Jill was able to pick out a few raw items to help her. I knew, however, that getting my dad on board might be a bit challenging, so I had to start him off slow.

Initially, I took Answers raw goats milk - since she wasn’t eating but was still drinking, at least with the goat’s milk she was able to get all the nutrients she needed, plus the probiotics would help her digestion so maybe she would eat more. I called my parents about a week later and Suede LOVED the goat’s milk I had picked out for her and had even started eating again! This also helped to convince my dad that Suede wasn’t ready to give up and that we should do whatever we could to help her at least be more comfortable. Although my dad was optimistic, he still thought she wouldn't make it to see 2020.

I wasn’t deterred. I knew there was more than just goats milk, a raw diet would give Suede more nutrition and be easier for her to digest than the kibble my parents were feeding her. But with so many choices, I wasn’t sure which to choose (good thing I had Dr. Jill on my team!). Dr. Jill was able to help me with muscle response testing for Suede, and out of all the raw options we found that Suede would do well with Smallbatch Cat Beef sliders.* At this point, you are probably thinking cat food for a dog? And the answer is yes, sometimes a dog might need a higher protein content, like Suede who was losing muscle mass and not eating much. I was surprised at the results but grabbed a bag and took it to Suede!

By this point, Suede had been on goat milk for about a month, and the improvement with goat milk alone was astonishing. I hadn’t seen her in that month and had only gotten reports from my parents that she was moving around better and was back to eating (though not as much as they would’ve liked). When I saw her after a month of goat milk, I was taken aback - this was a dog that would spend a few minutes trying to get up from laying down to come say hi to a dog that got up as if it was nothing, instead of her eyes looking sad and dull she was bright-eyed and alert.

I was even more optimistic after seeing her and knowing the raw food would only help her more. I left my parents with instructions on how to feed Suede the raw food, and I also left some treats that had natural sources of glucosamine. Now that she was feeling better and eating again, I wanted to help her old joints move just a bit better. I knew I wouldn’t see her again until Thanksgiving and I was excited to see the change!

What a change it was! She was walking so much better, she looked like she had gained some weight, and she was being really vocal, she was even able to go up and down the porch steps a couple of times! Both my parents were so excited that she was improving, my dad even said: “I think Suede will have another New Year!”

So here we are in the New Year, and Suede is doing better than ever! Every time I see her, she walks just a little bit better, has a little more weight on, and most importantly she has her personality and spark for life back! Seeing the change first hand seems like a miracle, but it is simply giving her body what it always wanted - proper nutrition!

*Note from Dr. Jill: Cat food and dog food should be kept to species-appropriate nutrition. We don’t recommend that cats eat dog food and dogs eat cat food. When it comes down to raw food, cat food typically has less produce - fruits and veggies - over dog food. The same beef source is used in both cat and dog formulas. With Suede, it was a matter of finding something for her to eat since Jennifer’s parents were thinking she was nearing the end of her life and we were thinking it was Suede’s last resort.

If your dog or cat has been experiencing some health challenges or just could use some wellness and nutrition tips, call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jill 248-548-3448. Click here for more information on our dog and cat wellness services

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